800? wow, that's a lot of ships!
Indeed! It certainly explains why the Excelsiors were always the ones ferrying personnel to the 1701-D in TNG (consider that only six Galaxies were initially built). We should make Praetor list the names of the "nearly 1000" that were in service.
That goes back to the whole problem of the fleet size. TNG consistently suggests there is a small Starfleet, or at least one that is very widely spread. The 40 ships at Wolf 359 are all they can muster in Earth's back yard, and Picard could only scrounge together 20 vessels - some without full crews - on the Romulan boarder.
The Enterprise is often "the only ship in range", but that goes for most of TOS and the movies too. Generations is particularly guilty with the Enterprise-B seemingly the only ship in the vicinity of Earth, which stretches credibility. Damn dramatic licence!
DS9 gives much larger fleets, as you would expect from wartime, with the 600 in Sacrifice of Angels being only about a third of the force they wanted. The Seventh Fleet was supposedly only 112 ships, and the loss of all but 14 is considered a major loss. Even so, earlier in the series it suffers from small fleet-itis, with a mere six ships coming to DS9's aid in The Way of the Warrior. I can't remember how big the Klingon fleet is - "at least 20" or something like that.
Obviously improvements in special effects techniques had an effect on how many ships we could see at one time, and with CGI, they seemed to grow exponentially.
The big difference is time. I can believe that the short notice of the Borg cube only allowed to pull in 40 ships, whereas it took months or years to recall ships from distant exploration and other duties to assemble large fleets for the Dominion War effort.
I don't know how I feel about 800 Excelsior
-class ships. We've seen a lot compared to some other classes, but we saw like 25 or something. It's difficult to reconcile Starfleet building small numbers of ships in many different classes and then building 800 heavy cruisers of this particular type. If I were to suppose a class of "only" 50, I would still expect this number to render it one of the most common types in the Starfleet.
I guess my real problem is the idea that *any* class would have hundreds and hundreds of representatives. I don't know if this is a safe assumption. There were 12 Constitution
-class ships at that one point in TOS, though the design was not new; people say we saw "so many Mirandas
" during TNG era, but I actually think it comes out to around 12, doesn't it? That's with a few variants in the mix, too. So I don't know if I feel like I have any grounds to extrapolate that seeing that many Mirandas
could mean there are hundreds. I always thought it was really interesting that Starfleet seems to build so many different kinds of research and exploration ships, always trying new things and staying on the cutting edge, and wondered if it isn't somewhat more interesting from a fictional perspective (and for the fans who love to design starships) if the fleet was made up of many, many classes of only a small number of ships each. It shows that they have a cool kind of "leisurely stargazing" or tinkering attitude instead of a more militant "this works, and let's mass-produce it" view.
I might have believed 800 scouts or something, but Excelsiors
are still quite good-sized even by the standards of the late 24th century (bit bigger than Voyager
) and if like one in ten ships in the Starfleet is a huge heavy cruiser like that, well, it's a hell of a fleet.